Edoardo Mangiarotti

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From another interesting portrait of a legendary fencer, Edoardo Mangiarotti.

 Portraits: The Great "Edoardo Mangiarotti"

Born in 1919 in Renate Veduggio in the Milan province, he is one of the greatest Italian and international fencers with his ability to win at an Olympic level both in epee and foil. Mangiarotti's first maestro was his father Giuseppe, one of the founders of the Milan fencing club "Il Giardino," from whom he learned how to fence together with his brother Dario.

The father understood the importance of a complete physical training and made his son practice swimming, running and cycling. This is how Mangiarotti grew up to be an athlete with great strength and endurance which he demonstrated throughout his long Olympic career.

But his father also had the merit to make Edoardo, naturally right-handed, to fence left-handed. This way he could catch by surprise his opponents who ended up facing a fencer who could respond on the same side they were attacking him. The unpredictability of his moves led him to his most important victories.

Mangiarotti's fencing career started in 1933 when at the young age of 14 he won the epee open in Tripoli. Since than he was on a path covered with laurels.

Mangiarotti's first Olympic game was in 1936 in Berlin where just 17 he was summoned in the epee team by Nedo Nadi, the selector of the Italian National Team at the time. The Italian epee team won the gold medal and Edoardo became the youngest Olympic gold medal of the Olympic games which became famous because of Jesse Owens victories.

In 1940 and 1944 no Olympic games took place because of W.W.II. Mangiarotti was drafted in the army as an attack instructor for the army corporals and sergeants and this helped him to keep practicing his specialty.

At the London Olympics in 1948, Mangiarotti won a bronze in individual epee, and silver medals in team competition for both epee and foil. Edoardo remembers this last competition with great bitterness because the jury had favored in an underhanded way the opposite team (France).

The Helsinki Olympics in 1952, represent the triumph of Edoardo who earned two gold (individual and team epee) and two silver (individual and team foil). At these Olympics the two Mangiarotti brothers met in the final epee bout: Edoardo beat his brother Dario.

The best quality and most effective strategy of this super champion was to attack the opponents from the first touches in the bout and gain a points advantage which often became unsurmountable for the remainder of the bout.

At the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, Mangiarotti Olympic medals tally reached 11 by winning two gold (foil and epee team) and a bronze in individual epee.

Mangiarotti's last Olympic touches were given at the Rome Olympics in 1960 where he earned two more medals: gold in team epee and silver in team foil. The Rome Olympics represented the final act of his Olympic career which lasted 24 years winning 13 medals.

He could have very likely earned many more if the games had not been canceled twice during W.W.II. Regardless, Edoardo Mangiarotti is one of the 10 super athletes who won 4 gold in the same specialty in 4 different Olympics. He is the only Italian athlete to have represented Italy as standard bearer at the Olympics opening ceremonies.

Mangiarotti was part of the group that restarted the fencing club "Il Giardino" in Milan, He is the author of books about fencing and is an FIE Honorary Member. On March 18, 2002, the International Olympic committee (IOC) awarded him the prestigious "Olympic Order."

Edoardo Mangiarotti participated in 5 Olympics between 1936 and 1960 (he would have been in more but for W.W.II).

His exceptional palmares has a yet to be matched record of successes with 13 Olympic medals, 6 of them gold, and 27 world championships medals, 13 of them gold, even though he participated in only nine world championships.